In April, 21 local entrepreneurs submitted applications for the contest. After hours of deliberation and interviews, Alliance staff narrowed the field to seven finalists.
In the following months, the finalists met with key Alliance staff and the Hoosier Heartland Indiana Small Business Development Center to create or refine their business plans.
In a “Shark Tank”-style event open to the public, the finalists presented business plans to a panel of three judges whose parameters included feasibility, presentation, positive community impact, and potential job creation. Serving as judges were Jim Alender, former president and CEO of Salin Bank & Trust; Peggy Cenova, regional director of the East Central Indiana Small Business Development Center; and Alan Krabbenhoft, Dean of the School of Business at Indiana University Kokomo.
The Drive’s other presenting finalists were David Lowe of Automotive Sales Coach, Brian Mula of GR Products LLC, Dominique Williams of HireWho, and Krystyne Wilson of Sweet Peas Play Café.
Several of the entrepreneurs’ business plans call for the creation of skilled jobs and high-tech training. Workforce development and job creation from large and small employers is a key component of the Alliance’s mission.
The event was sponsored by Duke Energy, Community First Bank of Indiana, Benchmark Mechanical, NIPSO, Indiana University Kokomo, City of Kokomo and Howard County government.